Ethical considerations in the use of geospatial data for research and statistics

18 May 2021
Last updated:
6 September 2021

Feedback on this guidance

This guidance has been published as an open and early draft for comment and feedback by the UK Statistics Authority’s Centre for Applied Data Ethics.

Although we aim to provide a practical resource for the research and statistical community, this draft is also intended as a catalyst for further discussion.

We are conscious, for example, that these guidelines focus on data inputs and analysis rather than how geospatial data or outputs are used in the real world. We may look to expand in this area in future versions.

We strongly welcome views and feedback, particularly on how these guidelines can be improved or made more helpful. We are also very interested in hearing if you have found these guidelines helpful in your own project – or if you can suggest further case studies.

If you would like to share your thoughts with us, please contact the Centre for Applied Data Ethics team or visit our webpages.

We aim to publish an updated draft following any feedback.

We look forward to hearing from you.


Emma Walker, UK Statistics Authority Centre for Applied Data Ethics

Alistair Calder, ONS Geospatial


Thanks for early contributions and comments provided by:

  • Professor David Martin, University of Southampton
  • Kelly Edwards, ONS Centre for Subnational Analysis
  • Professor David J. Hand, Imperial College, London


Any opinions or errors lie with the authors.


Except where credited otherwise maps included in this guidance are licensed under the Ordnance Survey Public Sector Mapping Agreement (PSMA)

© Crown copyright and database rights (2021) OS (ONS License: 100019153).

The mapping included in the Strava Heatmap is provided by Mapbox, with backdrop mapping sourced from OpenStreetmap and licensed under the ODbL

The original archival material (notebooks and poverty maps) used to create Charles Booth’s London, and the ‘redlining’ map of Milwaukee, are out of copyright. The digitised derivatives are licensed under a creative commons license with no rights reserved, meaning that they have “no known copyright” associated with them.

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